Benitez set to unveil Skrtel as crucial talks take place

The American owners of Liverpool may have relented last night to allow Rafael Benitez a new signing this transfer window but with Martin Skrtel set to arrive from Zenit St Petersburg for 6.5m, the more crucial talks take place in New York today.

The Liverpool chief executive, Rick Parry, will fly to America to meet the club's owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jnr for talks on the financing of the new Stanley Park stadium. However, after another weekend of reports which have suggested that Benitez expects to be sacked, the future of the club's manager is likely to be on the agenda too.

Benitez is widely expected to see out the season although another escalation in hostilities could yet hasten events to their conclusion. As matters stand, the Spanish manager is not expected to be relieved of his duties just yet but it now seems likely that the Americans will want to know why several Sunday newspapers ran stories to the effect that Benitez believes he will be sacked.

Publicly, the club will say that the signing of the Slovakia international Skrtel is an affirmation of their faith in their manager who at one point last month thought he would not be able to sign a single player. Talk of a replacement for Benitez continues to centre upon the California-based Jurgen Klinsmann and Aston Villa's Martin O'Neill.

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